EGG HARBOR CITY — The Cedar Creek High School football coaching staff planned the play before its game Saturday afternoon against Oakcrest.
And it was executed to perfection.
Pirates quarterback Louie Barrios connected with freshman wide receiver JoJo Bermudez across the middle for a 60-yard touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage.
That early spark started an offensive surge that led Cedar Creek (3-3) to a 40-14 victory over Oakcrest (3-3) in a West Jersey Football League interdivisional game. The Pirates outscored the Falcons 17-0 in the fourth quarter to break open a close game and end their two-game losing skid.
“Well, we have been repping that (play) this week in practice, and we just knew we needed this game after the two losses going into the bye week,” Barrios said. “We needed something to bring back our energy and play Cedar Creek football. So we said, ‘Why not start out with a bang?’”
Cedar Creek coach Tim Watson said offensive coordinator Chris Crowley watched film during the week and was confident the Pirates could start the game with that long pass to Bermudez.
“JoJo is a young player that we are very excited about, and we are trying to find some ways to get the ball in his hands,” Watson said. “He is a very dynamic player, and we knew if we gave him some touches that we would make something happen.”
Barrios, a junior, threw for 142 yards with three touchdowns in just the first half. The 5-foot-11, 150-pound Barrios also caught a 15-yard TD pass from Malachi Melton in the fourth quarter.
“I couldn’t do it without the O-line,” Barrios said. “We have been practicing all week and, I made a few mistakes in a few games, so I owed it to the team. I wanted to go out and win it for them.”
The Pirates’ Kamaal Reed recovered an Oakcrest fumble midway through the first quarter. Three plays later, Barrios connected with Aidan Richardson for an 18-yard TD pass to extend the lead to 13-0.
The Pirates’ Russ Riek caught a 27-yard TD from Barrios on a fourth-and-13 early in the second quarter, extending their lead to 20-0.
“We needed a big win going into today,” Russ said. “We lost the past two at home. That usually doesn’t happen to us, so we had to come out hot and bring the juice early.”
Riek, a senior wide receiver and defense back, also ran 6 yards for a TD in the fourth quarter and had an interception in the second quarter.
“I feel relieved,” Riek said. “I feel like my coaches are proud, and that’s all I really want to do, make my coaches proud and make the city proud.”
Oakcrest made noise near the end of the second quarter.
The Falcons’ Keevon Berry ran 1 yard for a TD with 4:31 remaining in the half, and quarterback Trey Sayers scored on a 2-yard run with 27 seconds remaining until halftime.
The Falcons, who trailed 23-14 at halftime, had multiple costly turnovers in the game.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a lot,” Oakcrest coach Eric Anderson said. “There were a couple things that were undisciplined, but everyone played hard, and that’s all I can ever ask for.”
“We fought hard in the second quarter to get back in this game, but they were the better team in the second half.”
The Pirates’ Taylor Manning made four PATs and two field goals.
“Anytime you play a rival, it’s a big win,” Watson said. “We had a lot of concerns facing these guys with a lot of their skill players. We knew they had a tough defense, so were giving them the utmost respect in terms of our preparation. But it does feel good to get back in the win column.”
Oakcrest 0 14 0 0—14
Cedar Creek 13 10 0 17—40
CC—Bermudez 60 pass (Manning kick)
CC—Richardson 18 pass (kick failed)
CC—Riek 27 pass (Manning kick)
O—Berry 1 run (Huggins kick)
CC—Manning 21 FG
O—Sayers 1 run (Huggins kick)
CC—Riek 6 run (Manning kick)
CC—Barrios 15 pass (Manning kick)
CC—Manning 28 FG